BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) –Thursday the South Dakota Supreme Court took up another case that involves multi-millionaire and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford and a child pornography investigation.
Sanford was never charged in the case that dates back to July of 2020, but that hasn’t stopped the media from wanting to unseal the search warrants that were tied to the investigation.
Last fall, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled the public had the right to view five search warrants involved in the 2020 child pornography investigation involving T. Denny Sanford.
But as Sanford’s attorney told the Supreme Court today, they can’t be released as is by law.
“There is a requirement to allow the individual to look at the document first before asking for the information to be redacted,” Sanford’s attorney Stacy Hegge said.
Their argument is that they don’t want personal and sensitive information released to the public.
“The document itself is supposed to be public, we are not going to take out a name, we are not going to remove the name of a defendant, so I would take issue with that Chief Justice,” Beck said. “Now if they would try to take out a social security number, I have no issue with that; the statute clearly says that social security number shall be removed from the document,” Jeff Beck said.
Plus, attorneys representing the media say the search warrants have to be released under statute 4.1
“And the 4.1 rule specifically addresses search warrants and the underlying affidavit and explicitly says, and this court affirmed that, that they become public when that investigation is over,” Beck said.
After searching Sanford’s phone records, online accounts, incoming and outgoing emails and more, investigators determined the investigation was over and no charges were filed.
But Sanford’s attorney says he still has a right to review the search warrants before they are released.
“Anyone who is subjected to a criminal investigation that has since been cleared should have the opportunity to review the information that has been compiled about you before it’s released to the general public,” Hegge said.
Justices will make a ruling at a later date.